Toomey: 'No reason' to delay Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey on Tuesday said there was "no reason" to delay a replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Pennsylvania Republican's announcement came shortly after Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, also announced that he would not oppose President Donald Trump's decision to nominate a new Supreme Court justice just weeks before the election.
The move marks a reversal for Toomey, who four years ago joined numerous other Republicans in opposing President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland, citing that year's presidential election.
“The difference between these Senate practices makes perfect sense," Toomey wrote in a statement. "When divided government creates tension between the two organs responsible for filling a position on the Supreme Court, it is completely justifiable to leave open a vacancy until the voters have had a chance to speak."
In 2016, Garland was nominated more than 300 days before the election, but the Senate never took up his appointment before Trump instead nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch. As of Tuesday, it was 42 days before the 2020 election.
Senate Republicans late Monday had said they had secured enough votes to move forward with the nomination. Democrats would need four of their GOP colleagues to join them to block a nomination vote.
However, only two Republicans, Sens. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Susan Collins, of Maine, have said they oppose Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to fast-track a vote.
Over the past few days, senators such as Toomey and Romney were thought to be possible defectors because they are less aligned with the president.
On Tuesday, though, Romney and Toomey both said they would not move to block a nomination and would instead welcome vetting Trump's nominee and, ultimately, holding a confirmation vote.
“My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of 'fairness' which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney said Tuesday in a statement. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent.”
Toomey's reasoning, that GOP control of both the Senate and White House make this instance different from 2016, mirrored arguments made by other Senate Republicans since Ginburg's death on Friday. The liberal justice died of cancer.
Trump, whose campaign is selling T-shirts that say "Fill that seat," is expected to name his nomination to the vacant justice seat on Saturday. He has said that he plans to nominate a woman.
Federal appellate judge Amy Coney Barrett is said to be a leading contender for the president.
"“As our nation mourns the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I will soon announce a nominee for the United States Supreme Court. They say it’s the most important thing a president can do,” Trump said at an Ohio rally on Monday night.
If the Senate were to approve Trump's nomination, conservatives would hold a 6-3 majority on the court.
That potential reality concerns Democrats, including Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who say a stronger conservative majority could deal a massive blow to the Affordable Care Act.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Monday said she had not ruled out a second impeachment attempt against Trump to delay a Supreme Court appointment.
"We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people," Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week." "That is when we weigh the equities of protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver."
The Democratic Party's progressive flank alsohas floated reviving a strategy first proposed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 known as court packing.
First introduced as an attempt to garner favorable rulings for Roosevelt's New Deal, the Democrat proposed expanding the number of Supreme Court justices to as many as 15. The push ultimately failed.
The proposal has not gained traction among the party's centrists.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.